A Guide to Boston with The Novel Ideas in Boston, Massachusetts
Collectively hailing from the state of Massachusetts, The Novel Ideas like to be described as country-folk. If they’re not recording albums in barns or playing Nintendo64 in their van between tour stops, the quintet is working hard to ensure that their collaborative songwriting is as sincere as it can be. It’s that sweet, slow Americana sound that you can enjoy on your porch on a summer day, as well as on a frosty winter’s eve.
A few of the band members talked to us about the rewards of traveling with a big band, the hospitality of their fans, and revealed their go-to source for finding the best places to eat in new cities.
Band members: Daniel (guitar, vocals), Sarah (vocals), Danny (pedal steel, guitar, vocals), James (bass, backing vocals), Elena (drums)
Tell us about Boston:
Daniel: We all technically grew up around and outside of Boston but we all definitely call Boston our home. Boston is an amazing place to live, in large part because it attracts so many intelligent and talented people which keeps you on your toes and means there’s always cool people to meet and collaborate with.
What is the best thing about Boston?
James: It’s larger on the inside than it seems. There’s just so much worth trying. You could eat three quality meals, each at a different place, for every day of the rest of your life and still miss out on hundreds of good options.
What is the worst?
Daniel: The worst part about Boston might be how easily young (especially recently graduated) people write it off. Instead of trying to create something new it seems a lot of people go to places like NYC or LA where that infrastructure already exists.
If Boston was a person or character who would it be?
James: I’m not sure, but we all avoid eye-contact as if this place were one big Medusa head.
What are some of your favorite places to tour?
James: Oswego, Illinois is where pizza dreams are made. If you’re looking for a slice, head to Firehouse Pizza. Ask for Dominic. Tell him I sent you.
Danny: I’ve loved touring in the mid-west. Places like Des Moines and Lincoln where folks come out to see bands they’ve never heard of and really listen when they do.
What has been the most surreal moment in your career so far?
Daniel: So far our most surreal moment was playing the mainstage at the Freshgrass Music Festival in North Adams. We were the first band of the day which we thought would mean no one would be there, but instead it meant that everyone was camped out and ready to listen. It was our first real festival and it couldn’t have been a better experience.
What has surprised you the most about touring?
James: They all said we’d want to tear each apart after spending so much time together, but I truly think the opposite happened. The most rewarding part of touring has been developing relationships with these great people after knowing one another on a musical-level for so long.
Danny: I’m consistently blown away by the hospitality of the people that let us crash on their floors, couches and beds. It’s exhausting traveling every day, but it’s made sustainable by the wonderful people who make us feel at home even when we’re not.
Describe a typical week of band life:
Sarah: Practice, eat burritos, run away from cats.
Daniel: Practice, eat burritos, hug cats.
What’s the hardest thing about being in a band? What’s the best?
James: As a touring band, the hardest part is maintaining some semblance of a balanced diet. My body hasn’t been so happy with me after the past few road trips.
Danny: The best part about being in a band is connecting with people on a level that is separate from normal communication. Even on a terrible, stressful day where the van’s transmission is leaking and we just barely make it to the destination, all that strife melts away when we start playing together.
What inspires your songwriting?
Daniel: We have three songwriters in the band so we all draw from different places. But what is true for me is that I find it impossible to sing something that isn’t true. Sometimes when I’m trying to finish a song I’ll write a filler lyric just so we can practice it but I always make sure to write something honest before we start to play that song live. What moves me most is music that is honest and relatable and we try and include that sincerity in everything we write.
What’s your favorite way to interact with fans, before during and after the show?
Daniel: After a show we love standing at the merch table and meeting and chatting with fans. It’s half the fun of playing a show. When someone comes up and says that they loved our set and they’ve never heard us before, that is one of the greatest compliments. We also love getting to know fans that come to multiple shows, it’s always so flattering to think that people would want to see us play essentially the same set more than once.
James: I like to break the fourth wall and talk to audience members as soon as we come on stage. They tend to loosen up and start yelling or requesting funny things after that, which, in turn, loosens me up. But also, I want to acknowledge and appreciate the people that are making this happen for us.
If you could tour with any band or artist from any time in history, who would it be?
Danny: When we were in the eighth grade, the music video for Phantom Planet’s “California” came out. That forever romanticized touring for me. It just looked so incredibly fun. I’d hop on that tour in a second.
Sarah: A joint tour with Celine Dion and Barbra Streisand. Final answer.
How do you get oriented in a new city?
Daniel: Our first step is always to figure out where to eat. Yelp is our best friend, especially considering there are four vegetarians in the band. I honestly don’t know what bands did before it.
Which bands/artists are you listening to these days?
Daniel: I’ve been really into Marvin Gaye lately. Also, the new Hiss Golden Messenger album. I love how subtle it is.
Danny: I’m only just now discovering the Riceboy Sleeps album from Jónsi & Alex. Simply can’t get enough.
Sarah: I’ve been dancing a lot to Seinabo Sey.
Boston city photos by Ashley McKinney and Cara Llewellyn.